THE BACK STORY: In January 2016 I launched "Well Used, Well Loved" (WUWL)a long term community art project that explores age, beauty, impermanence and attachment through a hand woven dish towel and reflective writing/drawing. Eight households from England to Oregon "adopted" a hand woven linen towel to use however they wish. Every other week I sent a prompt for reflection to be recorded in a small journal that I provided. The response to my initial call to participate in WUWL was overwhelming. Over 50 households expressed interest in taking part in the project and I only had 8 towels.

So I created a secondary project that dovetailed with the first one. This second group of ultimately 38 households (Maine to Arizona) wrote and drew on kozo paper (a special Japanese paper) to record their response to my prompts. Thru a hands-on workshop at my studio I taught local folks from this group how to spin their kozo paper into thread using a Japanese technique called Shifu. I created a video tutorial for those who wanted to learn to spin their paper from afar.

Prompts to both groups were the same. For example Prompt #6 was: "The materials for this project are hand woven linen and Kozo paper. Both are created from plant fibers, known for their absorption qualities. Absorption can also been seen as dissolving boundaries. In that light what parallels or connection do you observe between your own ability to absorb, to soak up, to empathize? What connections do you perceive between your linen/paper and the action of union, of dissolving boundaries, connection? What value do these actions have today.

In September 2017 I began to collect the 8 towels, the kozo papers and the journals to wrap up the project. The journals, the used/loved towels and the completed four panel piece woven from the community threads combine to create an installation that honors and reflect the spirit of this project.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Patience and perseverence.

    Today the last towel and journal from the Linen Team arrived back here in York. It was worth the wait.
Towel #V hard at work.
      Towel #V spent 8 months being well used and loved in a Navajo Nation school in Arizona. Journal #V is busting at the binding with life, text, images, beads, drawings, art, memories and stories.
    As I flip through the pages of this journal my heart feels so full with gratitude. THANK YOU Mrs. Wilson's art students!!
Towel #V has arrived back in York.

Worth the wait.
    Now that all the journals and towels have been returned, I am still hopeful that a few more of you Paper Team folks will send me your papers. I will happily spin whatever you have to offer me.
    During these dark months ahead I will design and create a piece that incorporates these spun papers.
    Now more than ever I believe in the metaphor of weaving as an illustration of community - and specifically of a balanced plain weave as an illustration of democracy. We are all part of the same cloth.
   I am still seeking a location to install the completed project.
With much gratitude ~ Sarah

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Gathering, Reflecting

    For those people who make art -- you know this time period.
If I were a hen -- I'd be sitting on my eggs.
Contemplating, keeping them warm, inspecting them every new and then.
Well Used, Well Loved - Journals and towels

    Well -- here I am -- exhibiting hen-like behavior. Not actually sitting on this stuff I gathered from "Well Used, Well Loved" - but contemplating it.
     Examining it, reviewing it. I am inspired by the stack of journals that were so lovingly created by the linen team households.
     I am awestruck by the depth of thoughtful writing and drawing that the paper team created. The Shifu spun threads from these kozo papers are seeped with spirit.
A response to Prompt #9 "Soft Matter"

     Entering into these dark winter months ahead, I feel the poignant potential of these materials.
    This time of waiting, sitting, listening and reflecting is a critical step in the art making process.
So like a hen,  I'll just sit here for now.

    Thanks for waiting with me.

Shifu spun threads waiting to be woven.